Three ways technology can help keep stores clean

Toby Pickard
Head of Insight - Innovation & Futures

Date : 01 April 2020

As the Coronavirus (COVD-19) affects more countries globally and impacts lives, there has been an increased focus on hygiene, as governments and health professional recommend regular hand washing. 

In this article we look at three technologies already in existence that keep stores clean and could help reassure shoppers.

Autonomous cleaning robots

Walmart has the Auto-C – Autonomous Cleaner in its stores. Each cleaner is programmed to travel across the store, polishing the floor. Much like a self-driving car, these machines use assisted autonomy technology to navigate their journey, whilst also cleaning and polishing the floor.

This helps to maintain a cleaner experience for its customers, whilst also freeing up its associates. 

Since 2019, Walmart has been adding a further 1,500 floor cleaners to its network, growing the number from the around 400 units that were already operational.

Source: IGD Retail Analysis

Robots to identify spill and in-store mess 

Nearly 500 robots will be coming to stores of Ahold Delhaize USA’s brands Stop & Shop, Giant and Martin’s, marking one of the largest deployments of robotics innovation in the US grocery industry.

The in-store robots, named Marty, have been tested and used to identify hazards such as liquid, powder and bulk food item spills, and provide reporting that enables corrective action. 

They help stores mitigate risk caused by such spills, as well as enabling associates to spend more time serving and interfacing with customers.

Source: Ahold Delhaize USA

Shopping cart automatically disinfected

In Shanghai, at an Ole’ supermarket we have seen shopping carts getting automatically disinfected by using Ultraviolet (UV) rays.

Shopping carts are simply placed into the automatic disinfectant unit where they get cleaned by UV rays. 

This reassures shoppers the handles on the shopping carts are clean. 

Source: IGD Retail Analysis

Analyst opinion

Technology will inevitably have a role to play in ensuring stores are a clean and safe place for shoppers and store staff. 

The technologies we have highlighted here will require significant financial investment from retailers and will also take time to get into store. Therefore, it is unlikely that we will see these types of technology being put into your local supermarket anytime soon.

These technologies are also better suited for larger store formats, as space is required for the robots to move through the aisles and the shopping cart cleaner requires a fair amount of space for the cleaning unit. 

However, we expect that we will see similar types of technologies coming to stores over the coming months and years as shoppers concerns around hygiene are unlikely to be diminished in the short-term, and retailers will be looking to encourage shoppers into their larger store formats.      

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